“Bless ye the God of heaven, give glory to him in the sight of all that live, because he hath shewn his mercy to you. For it is good to hide the secret of a king: but honourable to reveal and confess the works of God.” Tobit 12:6-7
I was working in the Bodleian earlier this week, for the first time in a long time, and was struck by its beauty afresh, like when you see a loved-one’s face after a long absence. I did my undergrad at Oxford, and I did appreciate its beauty then, but I simultaneously took it for granted too. I hadn’t realised then that there was nowhere quite like Oxford. Of course, every place has its own beauty, but it’s when we return to places we love, places once familiar which we now see through the eyes of a mere ‘visitor’, that we are utterly enchanted by their charm. Now, I am looking forward to another opportunity to work in the Upper Reading Room soon; as an undergraduate, often I was looking forward to the opportunity to leave the Upper Reading Room!
And, this made me muse over things I have taken for granted which, over the last few days or weeks, I have been thankful for afresh. And so, here are just a handful: the wonderful opportunity to a PhD in an area that so interests and inspires me; the places my work takes me to (both in the flesh, and through the sources I read); the gift of health (especially that my GI issues seem to be just an intolerance to certain foods rather than anything more serious), and the kindness and skill of doctors and nurses – and especially to the GI consultant I saw this week, who patiently and kindly answered all my questions, even though (I realised afterwards) I was his last patient and I had so many questions that the appointment ran overtime and that area of the hospital had closed for the night; those who love me, and their care and support for me; the Lord my God who is my peace, my help, my comfort, and my joy, and who is ever merciful to me, despite my abiding sinfulness.
The Bod looked so lovely that I took some photos on my phone. I wonder if this is how people imagined it looks on the inside? I guess so – the old parts of the Bod do have a fairy-tale like charm. The Glink (Gladstone Link) on the other hand, is a different story, a bleak subterranean world for which I have developed a fondness, but is not exactly beautiful! That, however, is a topic for another day…
Entrance to the Duke Humphrey library. Now this is how I imagine people picture the inside of the Bodleian!
View out from a window of the Upper Reading Room, over the Radcliffe Camera and All Souls college.
View from another window of the Upper Reading Room, over the Bodleian’s quad.
Part of the painting ceiling of the Upper Reading Room. I like staring up at the figures sometimes, and seeing which ones I’ve heard of.
Views from the Bodleian over the Sheldonian theatre and the ‘dreaming spires’ of the city.